Professor Wally Jay

Professor Wally Jay, founder and grandmaster of Jujitsu America and Small Circle Jujitsu International, was a 10th Dan in Jujitsu and a 6th Dan in Judo.  Professor Jay authored two books, Small Circle Jujitsu and Dynamic Jujitsu, as well as five instructional videos. His dojo, Island Judo/Jujitsu Club, was located in Alameda, California.

Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on June 15, 1917, Wally Jay grew up a sheltered and frail child. In 1928, at the age of eleven, he entered a boxing program under the tutelage of Jimmy Mitchell in order to develop both his physical body as well as his confidence and sense of security.

In 1935, he started to learn Jujutsu under Paul Kaelemakule. In 1938, he continued his boxing studies under Oregon State College coach Jim Dixon. Upon returning to Hawaii in 1940, Jay began his study of Danzan-Ryu Jujutsu under Juan Gomez, a fifth degree and one of the top instructors under Professor Henry Seishiro Okazaki.

During his Danzan Ryu training, Jay also studied judo under Ken Kawachi. Jay credited Kawachi with teaching him how to use “two-way” wrist action, a fundamental principle of Small Circle Jujitsu™.

In 1944, Wally Jay received his shodan and a year later, his nidan and instructor’s scroll. During this time, Jay also studied therapeutic massage and was a graduate of the Nikko Restoration Massage Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii.  He learned Seifukujutsu from Professor Okazaki.  He received his instructor’s degree from Prof Okazaki after completing the requisite courses in jujistsu and restorative massage.

In 1948 both Wally Jay and Bernice,his wife, attended the Okugi class held by Professor Okazaki. They both received a Kaidensho and the title, Shihan, from Professor Okazaki.

During the early 1950′s, Jay began to concentrate on coaching his Judo team on the mainland. After several embarassing defeats by the Hokka Yudanshakai of California, Jay went back to the drawing board and figured out how to decisively beat his team’s opponents. Using his strategies, Jay’s team went on to gain many championships.

The Northern California Judo Black Belt Association named Wally Jay “Judo Coach of the Year” in 1960, and he was Black Belt Hall of Fame’s “Man of the Year” in 1960.

Professor Jay’s judo players were one of the winningest teams in the late 1950s and early 1960s, which led to him being voted as Hokka Judo Yudanshakai Judo Coach of 1960. In 1960 his team captured the Mexican Judo Championships inMexico City, and in 1963-64 the American Jujitsu Institute awarded him Outstanding Coach of the Year.

In 1962, a young Bruce Lee sought out Wally Jay to learn how to add effective grappling techniques into the martial art he was developing. Lee and his friend James Yimm Lee spent many hours with Jay learning the Judo and Jujutsu methods he had perfected.

Professor Jay was inducted into Black Belt Magazine’s hall of Fame in 1969.

In 1977 Professor Jay and a group of others found Jujitsu America.  He was listed in Who’s Who in Martial Arts in 1977 and 1985.

He served as Team Captain of the U.S. Martial Arts Team that traveled to China in 1985, demonstrated at the First International Wu Shu Championships in Xian, China, and had the honor of demonstrating at the Dai Nippon Butokukai Festival on Emperor’s Day in Kyoto, Japan.

1990 he was honored at the First Ohana by Shoshin Ryu Yudanshakai for his contributions to Danzan Ryu Jujitsu.

In June of 1991 Professor Jay received an award from Professor Moses Powell for outstanding dedication and achievement in martial arts throughout the Bay Area.  Later that year he was selected black Belt Magazine’s “Man of the Year.”

May 4, 1991, received “Doctor of Science” external degree in the academic field of Physical Education by the College of Martial Arts.  The College of Martial Arts is an academic program backed by Great Plains Baptist College of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

He appeared on CNN when he demonstrated in South Africa for the Bophuthatswana Government in 1992.

Shoshin Ryu Yudanshakai inducted Professor Jay into the Danzan Ryu Hall of Fame in September 1993.

1996 Professor Jay and Jujitsu America serve as hosts for the fourth Ohana celebration in Santa Clara, California.

Professor Wally Jay retired in August 2002 at the age of 85.  In August 2002, Jay held a ceremony officially handing the title of Grandmaster over to his son Leon Jay in their hometown of Alameda, California, near San Francisco. Family, friends, several martial arts masters, and the media witnessed the occasion.

Professor Jay experienced a stroke on Tuesday, May 24, 2011, and on Saturday, as were his wishes, was removed from life support.  He survived another twelve hours. With family and friends at his bedside, Professor Wally Jay, one of the last great martial artists, passed away peacefully on May 29, 2011, at 2:20 a.m. at Kaiser Hospital in Redwood City.

     Professor Jay was a good friend to Shoshin Ryu over the years.  He appeared at many of our banquets in the early ‘90s.  He was helpful to everyone and spread a feeling of Ohana wherever he went.  If you never got to see him execute the dance of pain, you missed it.  We will miss Professor Jay very much.  Aloha, Professor.

* Special thanks to, the Danzan Ryu Homepage, and a myriad of other websites.

Professor Carl Beaver (left) and Professor Wally Jay (right) at Ohana ’94.